Name of Monument:

Qasr al-Kharanah

Location:

Kharanah, Jordan

Date of Monument:

before Hegira 92 / AD 710

Period / Dynasty:

Umayyad

Patron(s):

The palace may have been built during the reign of the Umayyad Caliph al-Walid I (AH 86–96 / AD 705–15), or possibly earlier.

Description:

Qasr al-Kharanah lies about 55 km east of Amman. It is a well-preserved square structure that measures 36.5 m x 35.5 m. The corners of the structure are marked by four solid three-quarter circle towers. The entry gate in the centre of the southern façade is flanked by two quarter-circle towers, and a semi-circular interval tower situated at the middle of each of the remaining facades. The palace is built of stone rubble with mortar. The structure includes two storeys of residential units arranged around a square courtyard that measures 13 m x 13 m. The upper storey is accessed by two flights of stairs directly behind the gate block. The barrel-vaults of the rooms are supported by semi-circular arches which spring from attached pilasters. One row of diagonally-placed bricks is used to decorate the upper part of the façade right above the ornamental 'arrow' slits. Another row of bricks marks the middle of all the nine towers.
In spite of its fortified appearance Qasr al-Kharanah does not seem to have served a military function since its towers and arrow slits are ornamental. The towers are solid, and the slits are too high above the floor to serve archers. Quite probably it served as a meeting place with the local tribes to elicit their political support for the Umayyad dynasty.
Both the construction techniques (the use of rubble with mortar) and the decoration (bricks and stucco) indicate Sassanid influences.

View Short Description

Qasr al-Kharanah lies about 55km east of Amman. It is a square structure with solid corner, interval and gate towers. The structure has two storeys of residential units arranged around a square courtyard. One row of diagonally placed bricks decorates the upper part of the façade above the ornamental ‘arrow’ slits. In spite of its fortified appearance, the qasr does not seem to have served a military function since its towers and arrow slits are ornamental. It was probably a meeting place with the local tribes to elicit their political support for the Umayyads.

How Monument was dated:

A graffito was found in the building with the date of hegira 27 Muharram 92 (AD 24 November 710), which provides evidence that the construction took place no later than this date.

Selected bibliography:

Creswell, K. A. C., and Allan, J. W., A Short Account of Early Muslim Architecture, Cairo, 1989, pp.96–105.
Khouri, R. G., The Desert Castles, Amman, 1992, pp.18–21.
Urice, S. K., Qasr Kharana in the Transjordan, Baltimore, 2001.

Citation of this web page:

Mohammad Najjar "Qasr al-Kharanah" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. 2021. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;jo;Mon01;25;en

Prepared by: Mohammad NajjarMohammad Najjar

Mohammad Najjar is an archaeologist and has been Director of Excavations and Surveys at the Department of Antiquities of Jordan since 1988. He studied archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in Moscow from where he holds his Ph.D. He was affiliated to the Department of Antiquities of Jordan in 1982 as Curator of Jordan Archaeological Museum. He was the Technical Director of Cultural Resources Management (sites development) at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities between 1994 and 1997. He is the author of numerous publications on the archaeology of Jordan.

Copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: JO 25

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